Sustainability is part of Siemens’ DNA, and it has the accreditations to prove it. The technology manufacturing giant has been named one of the world’s most sustainable companies in the area of climate protection by non-profit group CDC Global and it is ranked first in industrial conglomerates by the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. The firm launched its DEGREE sustainability framework in 2021, standing for: decarbonisation, ethics, governance, resource efficiency, equity and employability. People are at the heart of its approach to ESG, as proven by the fact that CHRO Judith Wiese is also chief sustainability officer.

Organisation: Siemens

Industry: Technology

Size: 8,600 people in the UK

Connecting with community

Several areas of the DEGREE framework have a link to community involvement, but employability is the most profound. Siemens UK & Ireland has a number of education initiatives, including partnering with an organisation called Green Power to teach young people about engineering technology through a sustainability lens.

The firm has a long history of school engagement, says People and Organisation Director Valerie Todd, particularly working with students who are thinking about their next steps after education. It works with Pearson on its curriculum, bringing industry into the classroom. During the lockdowns, it was quick to pivot work placements into virtual work experience offers that now reach even more young people.

‘We engage with more young people than we could ever employ,’ says Todd. Such engagement creates a virtuous circle, spreading skills and knowledge into the community to positively impact the smaller businesses in the supply chain.

Siemens is partnering with a number of universities and local employment partnerships in the north, and playing an active role in the Government’s levelling up agenda. All employees get two days a year paid volunteering time.

Role of the people profession

Many of Siemens’ education and employability activities have a direct link to core people services like recruitment and L&D. But beyond that, Todd sees the people function as critical in creating more structure around community engagement and ESG, as well as embedding it into culture. ‘How do we develop leaders to think about what ESG means to us as a business? How do we align with others? We have to bring them along with us on that journey,’ she says. ‘You can’t have chaos and everybody doing things just because they have a passion for it. You have to corral that passion into something effective and impactful.’

People leaders have a responsibility to work beyond their organisation in building the skills they need, she believes, such as engaging with government and business groups. ‘You get the society you work for, so you can’t complain that young people aren’t coming out of education work-ready if you’re not doing something about it.’

HR has a storytelling role, promoting the value of ESG and community engagement. ‘There’s nothing better than telling stories of what has been achieved,’ Todd says, adding that her goal is to get 50 ‘really powerful stories out there’.

You can't have chaos. You have to corral that passion into something effective and impactful.

Valerie Todd CBE, HR Director, Siemens UK & Ireland

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